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Panel Talks of Chief Candidates

LAPD: The Police Commission tries to narrow the field of 13 to its top three choices to lead the department.


Members of the Los Angeles Police Commission spent much of the day Tuesday discussing their choices for the next chief of the LAPD, but adjourned without reaching a decision on their top three choices.

The commission is expected to convene again Thursday to try to narrow the list of 13 contenders.

"We are going to keep going at it until we get it right," said commission President Rick Caruso. "We've been debating back and forth, and I think it's starting to come together."

Caruso added that the commission remains undecided, and disputed a report that the panel had reached agreement. "It's just wrong," he said.

Among the LAPD insiders being considered for the job are Assistant Chief David Gascon, Deputy Chiefs David Kalish and Margaret York, and Cmdrs. George Gascon, James McDonnell and Sharon Papa.

Candidates from outside the department include two former LAPD deputy chiefs: Portland, Ore., Police Chief Mark Kroeker and Oxnard Police Chief Art Lopez.

Also in the running are Sacramento Chief Art Venegas, Santa Ana Chief Paul Walters, former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, Cambridge, Mass., Chief Ronnie Watson and former Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Timoney.

The commission began interviewing candidates two weeks ago. After the commissioners finish their deliberations, they will forward their list of three finalists to Mayor James K. Hahn, who will make the final decision--subject to City Council confirmation.

Caruso said the commission spent hours in closed session Tuesday going over extensive background checks. They also received a briefing from Hahn's chief of staff, Tim McOsker, who interviewed former colleagues of the outside candidates.

"We're taking a lot of time because we want to be very deliberate," Caruso said. The city began the search for a new chief in April, after the commission voted not to grant Bernard C. Parks a second five-year term. Fifty-one people applied for the job. The list was first narrowed to 21, then to 13.

Hahn kicked off a media campaign this week to prepare the city for his selection. In an Op-Ed piece and radio and TV appearances Tuesday, Hahn said he is looking for a strong leader, someone who can reduce the crime rate, boost morale, recruit new officers and reform the department. He also said he wants a chief with whom he can have a solid working relationship.

Some are watching his decision for its potential ramifications on Hahn's own future.

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